LONDON, (AFP) – Britain re-established high-level intelligence links with the Syrian authorities as Foreign Secretary David Miliband visited Damascus, the Times newspaper said Wednesday citing senior Syrian officials.
The newspaper said the move could be hugely beneficial for Britain, as Syria has one of the best intelligence-gathering systems in the Middle East, particularly in tracking the movements of Islamic extremists in Iraq.
It cited a Syrian official as saying that Miliband asked his Syrian counterpart, Walid Muallem, during a meeting in New York earlier this year “whether he could re-establish intelligence links at a senior level”, following lower level contacts.
Muallem reportedly invited Miliband to take intelligence officials with him on the trip to Damascus, the first to Syria by a top British diplomat since 2001.
After talks with President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, Miliband said Syria could play a “constructive role” in bringing stability to the Middle East.
He told the BBC on Monday that the country could be a “force for stability or it can be a force for instability”.